Swiss envoy: Invest in Iran, ‘a pole of stability’ (The Times of Israel)

Switzerland’s Ambassador to Iran Giulio Haas on Thursday urged a conference of Swiss businessmen in Zurich to invest in the Islamic Republic as its markets reopened after years of sanctions, calling it a “pole of stability” in the Middle East, Reuters reported.

European politicians and industry have flocked to Iran in recent weeks, after a breakthrough agreement on its nuclear program included an end to the crippling sanctions that saw Western business shy away en masse.

Haas said his almost two-year stint in Tehran has made him certain that the West is about to change its view of Iran as an aggressor.

“Iran at the moment is most probably the pole of stability in a very, very unsafe region,” he said. “Iran seems still for a lot of people to be bearded, elderly gentlemen with turbans. You see them, but you see not a lot of them, especially when you’re dealing with business.”

Swiss exports to Iran have fallen by more than half to less than 400 million Swiss francs ($415 million) since 2008, due to sanctions, Reuters reported.

But experts warned the conference that Iran suffers from widespread problems of bureaucracy, nepotism and corruption, as well as piracy and legal unpredictability.

“The corruption is still at unbelievable rates,” the report quoted Sharif Nezam-Mafi, chairman of the Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce, as saying.

Switzerland’s Ambassador to Iran Giulio Haas on Thursday urged a conference of Swiss businessmen in Zurich to invest in the Islamic Republic as its markets reopened after years of sanctions, calling it a “pole of stability” in the Middle East, Reuters reported.

European politicians and industry have flocked to Iran in recent weeks, after a breakthrough agreement on its nuclear program included an end to the crippling sanctions that saw Western business shy away en masse.

Haas said his almost two-year stint in Tehran has made him certain that the West is about to change its view of Iran as an aggressor.

“Iran at the moment is most probably the pole of stability in a very, very unsafe region,” he said. “Iran seems still for a lot of people to be bearded, elderly gentlemen with turbans. You see them, but you see not a lot of them, especially when you’re dealing with business.”

Swiss exports to Iran have fallen by more than half to less than 400 million Swiss francs ($415 million) since 2008, due to sanctions, Reuters reported.

But experts warned the conference that Iran suffers from widespread problems of bureaucracy, nepotism and corruption, as well as piracy and legal unpredictability.

“The corruption is still at unbelievable rates,” the report quoted Sharif Nezam-Mafi, chairman of the Iran-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce, as saying.